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Imagine discovering that your kidneys are not functioning properly, and it is detrimental to receive a transplant as soon as possible. Instead of entering your name onto the dreadful organ donor waiting list, you can simply order an authentic printed organ from the nearest bioprinter. The entire process will only take a few weeks.
The study of the behavior of cells has led the innovations of biology to reach new heights and generate unthinkable solutions, such as synthetic replacement. Biologists have not only been able to create lab-engineered organs, but they have also successfully implanted them into patients through tedious and time-consuming processes such as decellularization and electrospinning, which require close watch on the development of tissue to prevent errors or dislocation. The advancement of lab-engineered organs has continued with the idea of a much faster, technology-driven process. Bioprinting, or the insertion of cells into delicate 3D framework, provides a promotion to cell research by furthering knowledge of the behavior of cells and tissue growth in a process that is more magnified than ever before.
The practice of bioprinting is complementary to conventional 3D printing. The framework is created in a layer-by-layer process using bioink to construct it. Prior to constructing, it is essential to know the dimensions of tissue required, given that size and shape play a major role in the functionality of the tissue. Cells are collected by requiring them from the foreskin of the patient. From this point, the human cells can be isolated and expanded to be embedded in the bioprinted product. After the bioink spheroids are printed on various layers, they fuse together to create a product of living tissue.
Image from Wikimedia Commons
While the techniques of bioprinting are still developing, the innovations have opened the gates for biologists to essentially design living organs. Although the machines may be crushing biological objectives, the procedure itself is still facing challenges. A sterile environment is a crucial fundamental that can greatly affect the behavior of cells in bioprinting. The structure and chemical substances used must be suitable in order for the cells to survive. The head of the 3D Printing and Biofabrication research group at the Institute of Materials Science and Technology, Professor Aleksandr Ovsianikov, explains the vital features that cells need. “The structures in which the cells are embedded must be permeable to nutrients so that the cells can survive and multiply. But it is also important whether the structures are stiff or flexible, whether they are stable or degrade over time.” These specific necessities restrict the variety of materials that have the ability to maintain living cells throughout the process. Bioink has been found to be the most reliable material to produce lab-engineered tissue through bioprinting.
The act of bioprinting aims to obtain benefits to the health of patients and the abundance of viable organs. According to Bio Bots, a group of biologists dedicated to bioprinting, they intend to achieve the goal of eliminating the length of the organ waiting list and expand on cures for a wide range of diseases. The video states that bioprinting is currently being used in various research institutions to further develop and accelerate the process. The objective is to expand the technique to local hospitals, and eventually allow bioprinting to create a needed organ on demand. According to the American Transplant Foundation, there are currently over 114,000 Americans waiting for a donor organ and around 20 Americans die waiting for a transplant each year. The impending technologies of bioprinting are capable of resolving this health crisis for patients.The computer-created synthetic tissue has the potential to change the face of organ replacements in the future with the simple click of a button.